In February of 2006 the Pittsburgh Steelers go to Detroit for the biggest game of their lives, and the defensive unit step off the plane wearing a jersey with #44 on it.
In August of 2007 the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Canton, Ohio for the Hall of Fame game and the defensive unit again is wearing the #44 on jerseys as they arrive.
In the fall of 2008 those same defensive players came out of the locker room early before a game to stand at attention on the sidelines and watch as this man was honored for 50 years of service in the NFL as a player and coach.
Today the Pittsburgh Steelers travel back to Canton, but not to play a game. Not to lobby for the induction of a man that has profoundly impacted their lives, the fortunes of the Steelers, and the way defensive football is played in the NFL.
They arrive to honor a man that is addressed as “Coach Dad.”
A man that recites the 550 words of the Night Before Christmas by memory alone to his squad each winter.
A man that each of his players say “When he talks to you, he makes you feel as if you are the most important person in the world.”
A man that apologized to his players because he would miss his first practice in his 52 year career because he was at the Hall of Fame.
A man that carries no play script to practice because he’s attained a level of defensive mastery that with eyes only, he can call a defense, see the play unfold and know the rights, wrongs, and corrections without hitting the instant replay button.
A man that calls his enshrinement to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as “10,000 dreams come true.”
A man that wore the number 44 through 14 years, 3 Pro Bowls, 171 straight starts and 62 interceptions.
A man that stands alone as a shining testament to personal strength, character, endurance and integrity.
A man called Dick LeBeau. Have a great day Coach Dad.
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